If you're a working parent, you might envy the extra time your friends without children have to focus on their careers. Well, you can now take comfort in the fact that the stress is now scientifically proven to pay off. According to a new study, the more children you have, the more productive you are at work.
Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that, over the course of a 30-year career, female economists with children outperformed their childless counterparts at almost every stage of their career. Male economists also benefited from having more kids, though the effects wasn't as strong as that in women.
According to the study, "mothers of at least two children are, on average, more productive than mothers of only one child, and mothers in general are more productive than childless women. Fathers of at least two children are also more productive than fathers of one child and childless men."
The Washington Post does offer a significant caveat to the study, which examined more than 10,000 academic economists:
It's important to point out that the authors are examining a very narrow group of women with privileged circumstances. Parenthood was likely planned for many them, with benefits such as maternity leave and paid sick time. They can also better afford to pay for resources like reliable child care that allow them to work longer. Low-income or low-skilled mothers often face a very different working environment.
Even so, the researchers found that productivity declined when their children were young — but they made up all the work before and after that period of time.
The results of the study seem almost impossible if we consider how many times one of our parents had to take us to school, pick us up from school, drive us to various after-school activities, feed us, and do all the wonderful things for us that they stressed over. But, though this study has definite limitations — like the privileged working circumstances of those studied — we're glad to see that working parents can benefit from all the multitasking.
For all its limitations, it's great to see research dismantling the notion that having kids is somehow anathema to having a long, successful career in a demanding profession. Keep doing amazing things, Mom and Dad!
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